His ambition to become the world’s leading steel magnate is legendary and has often been described as being ‘Olympian’.
The mogul himself has drawn parallels between success on the track and in business.
Unsurprising then that billionaire Lakshmi Mittal has been spearheading a $10m initiative aimed at providing Indian athletes a competitive advantage at international sporting events.
Launched in 2005, The Mittal Champions Trust helps athletes across a variety of disciplines – from track and field to boxing and shooting; assisting them with everything from nutrition and physiotherapy as well as providing specialized equipment.
The Trusts’ most notable success story thus far has been that of shooter Abhinav Bindra, who became the first ever individual Indian Olympic gold medallist when he won the 10m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing games.
MCT’s latest crop of Olympic medal hopefuls – including archer Chekrovolu Swuro and Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winning discus thrower Seema Antil – were given a warm send-off at a reception held at the picturesque Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park July 23.
A relaxed-looking Mr Mittal was joined at the event by wife Usha, son Aditya, daughter Vanisha as well as son-in-law and Trust co-founder Amit Bhatia.
Other guests included the billionaire Hinduja brothers, Indian High Commissioner Dr J Bhagwati and Mrs Bhagwati and Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi.
Speaking about the origins of the Trust, Mr Bhatia said: “After the Athens Olympics, there was this over-riding sense of disappointment that for a populist nation such as India we had only one medal winner. That’s when Mr Mittal offered his pioneering vision to fund Indian sport at a world class level. Since then, the dedication and commitment of our champions has resulted in a 50 per cent qualification rate for the Olympics this year. We wish them all the luck.”
Meanwhile, London 2012 organizers have announced that Mr Mittal will carry the Olympic torch during its’ journey through the capital.
Mr Mittal will be joined by his son Aditya during the Camden to Westminster stretch of the relay the day before the Games’ opening on Friday July 27.
– Viji Alles